Efforts across the country to pass state legislation limiting transgender rights make it a “very scary” time for those affected, says CP Hoffman of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).
Some of the proposed or adopted measures prohibit or criminalize health care for trans youth; bar access to the use of appropriate facilities such as toilets; and restricts the ability of trans students to participate fully in school and sports, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
“On the one hand, it’s very scary. It’s very scary to be targeted by your government as a social problem that needs to be addressed,” said Hoffman, senior policy adviser at the Washington, D.C.-based national center. He suggests that efforts to provide needed care to children are a criminal activity.
Despite the concern, “There is a lot of hope,” Hoffman said. “There’s certainly a big generational gap in acceptance of trans issues, and younger generations tend to be more likely to be in favor of trans rights.”
Hoffman added, “We’re hopeful because the demographics seem to be on our side if we can get through the next few years.”
In addition, there have been some important legislative and judicial victories at the federal level and in some states over the past few years, Hoffman said.
Americans have complex set of views on transgender: Pew survey
According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, most people in the US support protecting transgender people from discrimination, but less support policies related to medical care for gender transitions. Many are uneasy with the pace of change on transgender issues.
“As the United States grapples with transgender rights issues and the broader landscape around gender identity continues to change, the American public holds a complex set of views on these issues,” stated a report by June 28 Pew on survey results.
About eight in 10 American adults say there is at least some discrimination against transgender people in society, and a majority favor laws that protect transgender people from discrimination in jobs, housing and public spaces, reports Pew.
At the same time, 60% say a person’s gender is determined by the sex assigned at birth, up from 56% in 2021 and 54% in 2017.
The poll also shows that the public is divided on how far American society has accepted transgender people: 38% say society has gone too far in accepting them, while a roughly equal share (36% ) says that society has not gone. far enough About one in four say things have gone well.
Transgender issues “are extremely polarized” by political party, Pew Research Associate Anna Brown said in a separate article related to the survey.
Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic Party are more than four times more likely than Republicans and Republicans to say that whether a person is male or female can be different from their assigned sex at birth, Brown said .
Age is another dividing line in many of these issues, the article states. When it comes to gender identity issues, “young adults are at the forefront of change and acceptance,” says Pew.
Why so much controversy?
Brian Powell, a professor of sociology at Indiana University, suggests that one of the reasons for the great controversy over transgender issues is that many changes “have happened very, very quickly” in terms of the transgender rights movement.
In comparison, it took much longer for same-sex marriage to be accepted, he said. Now, while some Americans still oppose it, virtually every national poll says “that a large percentage, an overwhelming majority, of people believe that same-sex couples should be able to marry,” he said Powell.
Two or three decades ago, “This was completely unimaginable,” Powell said. “People took a long time to evolve.”
With issues related to transgender rights, “We’re doing this in a very short period of time, and people need time to clear up anything that’s not familiar.”
Whenever change happens very quickly, there will be more pushback than if it happens very slowly, he said. He believes this is a key reason why “there is such a divide.”
Also, the idea that someone is assigned a sex at birth but later identifies as a different gender is conceptually difficult for many people to grasp, Powell said.
People are used to a binary world, male and female, with very clear boundaries. “It’s easier for us to process, but that’s not how the world really works” in terms of gender, she said. “Boundaries are not as firm as people want to believe they are.”
The issue of transgender rights is also “very divided and polarized by politics, age and religion,” he said.
Republicans are much more likely to be resistant to the idea of transgender issues, while Democrats are less resistant, although there is a lot of variation in both groups, he said. Independents “are in the middle”.
In terms of age, the older the person, the more resistant they are to the idea of being transgender, he said. With religion, the stricter they are about the biblical text, “the more resistant they will be to transgender issues,” Powell said.
One concern he has about the current environment is that too often people are “demonizing the other side. … I don’t believe in demonizing other sides,” Powell said.
He added: “People may have very different views than I do on certain issues, but I understand… They’re not trying to do something they think is bad or wrong. They’re trying to figure out what makes the most sense for them in the world where they live.”
An NPR article from June claims that 2021 was a record year for anti-trans legislation. More than 290 bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community were introduced in state legislatures. Of these bills, 25 were enacted.
He claimed he was already on track to break that record by 2022, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
The article says that “most of this legislation is being pushed by Republican lawmakers and is a galvanizing issue for the GOP base.”
A June report from the UCLA Williams Institute estimates that the number of young people who identify as transgender has doubled from previous estimates in 2016 and 2017, based on additional data. Their analysis is based on government health surveys conducted between 2017 and 2020.
Among 13- to 17-year-olds in the U.S., 1.4 percent (about 300,000 youth) identify as transgender, compared to about 0.5 percent of all adults, he estimates.
The institute also estimates that 1.6 million people age 13 and older identify as transgender.
The Williams Institute, part of the UCLA School of Law, is a research center focused on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.